Could Hackney get its own congestion charge? Mayor outlined ‘pioneering’ vision at meeting
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Hackney Council has had ambitions to be the first London borough to launch its own congestion zone, meaning drivers would have to pay a toll to drive through its streets.
Elected mayor Phil Glanville was captured on video at a packed public meeting in June 2019, when he outlined his long-term strategy to get vehicles off the road in a bid to reduce pollution.
“To be blunt,” he said, “It would be road pricing or a congestion charge for Hackney.
“We have been modelling over the last year traffic movement and HGV movement in the borough, and we want to make the case using some of the powers set out in the mayor of London’s transport strategy, to be a pioneering area for either freight truck charging or some kind of congestion zone approach in Hackney, because ultimately we need to get that through traffic out of our town centres and out of our borough.”
He added: “We want to make sure all our neighbourhoods are low-traffic cycling and walking neighbourhoods and that then does move traffic onto major roads, which are built for more traffic in terms of freight movement and in terms of the long-term future and sustainability of our town centres.
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“More than a third of all traffic in Hackney doesn’t start or end in the borough, and it’s unacceptable when only about a third of residents have access to a private car that we are living with the consequences of other people driving into the borough from other boroughs that haven’t removed cars or created these types of neighbourhoods.”
The council has confirmed it has looked at the feasbility of road-user charging.
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The video was recorded at the Dalston Speaks consultation event on June 2 last year.
A move to create a congestion zone would be a continuation of the council’s clampdown on vehicle use, following its introduction of low-traffic neighbourhoods in London Fields, Hackney Downs and Hoxton West over the summer using emergency powers devolved to councils by central government.
While some have welcomed the low-traffic neighbourhoods, hundreds of people have since joined protests against road measures they have blamed for “chaos and misery”, and branded “undemocratic” because of a lack of prior consultation.
The Gazette asked the council to share more concrete information about its plans for a congestion zone, and when and whether it might be rolled out.
In response Mr Glanville said in a statement that “there are no plans to implement a scheme at this stage, which would need support from other levels of government and further engagement with residents”. He added: “The council has been looking at the issue of through-traffic through research and monitoring, as well as the feasibility of road user charging as a way to tackle congestion on main roads.
“The government was reported last week to be investigating the feasibility of road-user charging, which we would support because it would encourage drivers to switch from non-essential car journeys to other modes of transport, helping to improve air quality and road safety,
“Over 40 per cent of traffic in Hackney is through-traffic, which causes delays to buses, increases in congestion, more air pollution and puts residents at risk from road accidents, despite less than a third of Hackney households owning cars.”